Trader Joe’s has been my fantasy grocery account since the early days when I would buy my ingredients there for the original “Lauren’s Mega Nuts.” And now, it’s happening. Picky Bars got picked up in Trader Joe’s nationwide!
Jesse wrote an official blogpost on behalf of the crew about it, with details on the business and backstory that I definitely recommend you check out, so I won’t repeat that information here. Except for the gratitude bit. I’ll echo that in my own way. *(See the end for some specifics)
I don’t want to blow this announcement out of proportion because like in running, every race is just a race. Some are big, small, hyped, or chill. All have personal importance. Trader Joe’s is a customer like anyone else, but what makes this moment worth celebrating is that for the first time we have added an account big enough to be able to take a deep breath. To take us to the next level of scale that doesn’t feel like standing on a cliff all the time. An opportunity not many get. One big account can make a big difference in viability to a little company. It can also disappear at any time. There is no such thing as security when you own your own business, but it feels really good to celebrate this landmark. It’s like qualifying for the Boston Marathon. We still have to run the 26.2 miles, but dammit if I’m not going to take photos at the expo, buy the jacket, and visualize myself “running to win” like Meb.
I feel proud, humbled, and also unexpectedly sad. My (deceased) dad’s birthday was last Saturday and it snuck up on me. All this great news for Picky Bars has been building after months of growing pains for the business and for me personally. I don’t know if t’s growing up in a blue collar home without exposure to entrepreneurship or what, but I’ve been super uncomfortable with the levels of risk involved in owning a business. I’ve been waiting for this news to be official for a long time so I could relax for a minute. I thought I’d feel ok when we got an official order. I wasn’t. I thought I’d feel ok when we got the bank loan to make the big order. Nope, that made it worse. I thought I’d feel ok when I saw the bars being made with my own eyes, that pulling some off the line to taste and feel and inspect would set me at ease. It didn’t.
I needed to see them on the shelves. Today I walked into a Seattle TJ’s, and after awkwardly grabbing six of them, I stood against the wall for a few minutes and watched employees stocking and organizing. I watched a woman picking them up and reading the labels (she didn’t buy any, but she smiled). I felt like I had a secret when I paid for my items and the cashier said “Oh these are new! I’ll have to try one!” For some reason I couldn’t say anything. I just picked up my Picky Bars (and my hunk of dark chocolate) and sat in my parked car until the meter ran out. I wanted to call my dad.
I’m sad my dad isn’t here for this, because he would be losing his shit. He is the person I looked forward to sharing my biggest life moments with more than anyone. Nobody could match his outbursts of joy. He’d weave expletives through high-pitched grunt-yelling and sound as if he jumped right out of his Levis with excitement. His smile made the phone bend. Not being able to call him has left me a little broken, but at the same time it feels good to miss him.
Over the past few days I’ve seen so many of you posting photos from your local TJ’s and tagging me in them. Thank you for celebrating with us. I feel the love, big time. It’s surreal and really fun to virtually watch them spread out across the country store by store. THANK YOU.
Thank you’s *
Thank you. Steph. Jesse. Loren. Jenn. Patrick. The early crew. The Flyers running group who taste-tested the first awful prototypes and placed personal orders anyway to encourage us. The most fun ragtag crew in America that made bars in my kitchen for a year. Bumblebar. Our first customer, Meggie. Our first Picky Club members back in 2011, before subscriptions were a thing, and the special group that has been with us the whole time. Our specialty retailers and their communities. The sweat band wearers and Picky Games players and #lifepoints photo takers and all the Picky Clubbers and Feed the Dreamers. The brands, media outlets, friends, athletes and strangers who spread the word and/or shared a bar or club membership with a friend. Our family members, led by our biggest personal fans (moms of the biological, step, and in-law variety). The Picky Crew at HQ and our business mentors in Bend and beyond. And one last special thanks to my pops, who didn’t even like Picky Bars (“I don’t eat that shit!”) I can’t compete with chocolate ice cream.